First lady takes over at OTA and seeks responsibility

TORONTO — It took eight decades, but the Ontario Trucking Association has named a woman to head up its board of directors.

Julie Tanguay, president of L.E. Walker Transport in St. Thomas, Ont., was elected chairwoman of the association during the OTA’s annual two-day convention being held Nov. 20 to 21.

Tanguay was born into the trucking industry. In 1987, at the age of 23, she along with her sisters Laurie, Wendie and their mother Jean took over the family trucking business from her father. In the intervening years Julie has overseen its growth from 30 vehicles to a fleet of more than 180 vehicles today.

“Trucking has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember,” says Tanguay. “Still, if you’d asked me a few years back whether I would ever become chair of the Ontario Trucking Association, I’d have said ‘no way’.

“It was pretty intimidating (coming onto the board) at first; there were all these legends of the trucking industry and then there was me, the only woman,” she recalls. “I don’t think I said a word for the first couple of years – I listened and learned – but gradually I became more comfortable, got more involved in the activities of the board, became a member of the executive committee and here I am.”

Responsibility is a word you will often hear Tanguay use to describe the solution to most of the industry’s problems.

“It’s true, I think every company, every person in the supply chain has to take responsibility for their actions and act responsibly, whether its carrier owners, fleet managers, drivers, third parties and intermediaries, shippers or suppliers,” she says.

“Unless those who should be taking more responsibility do so, voluntarily or by regulation, we will continue to experience problems in the marketplace. There are still too many people out there trying to make a quick buck off the industry by shirking their responsibility, or by trying to shift the responsibility to someone else. The industry has been preyed upon for too long,” Tanguay continues.

“OTA has always been about responsible trucking, so I am not covering any new territory here, but if during my tenure as chair, I can keep the spotlight on the need for all those with a stake in the industry to take responsibility for their actions; and if I can lead by example, then I will feel I have made a contribution,” she says.

In addition, to running her business and serving on the boards of both OTA and CTA, Tanguay is also completing a certificate in the OPM Management Program at the Harvard Business School of Executive Management.

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